“But a taste for winter, a love for winter vistas – a belief that they are as beautiful and seductive in their own way, and as essential to the human spirit and the human soul as any summer scene – is part of the modern condition. [...] A mind of winter, a mind for winter, not sensing the season as a loss of warmth and light, and with them hope of life and divinity, but ready to respond to it as a positive, and even purifying, presence of something else – the beautiful and peaceful, yes, but also the mysterious, the strange, the sublime – is a modern taste.”
Snow on the Common, Feb. 2011
“Winter’s persona changes with our perception of safety from it – the glass of the window, as I sensed in that November snowstorm, is the lens through which modern winter is always seen. The romance of winter is possible only when we have a warm, secure indoors to retreat to, and it becomes a season to look at as much as one to live through.”
Snow through the window, Jan. 2011
“There is a humane purpose to watching winter that is found simply in the acts of naming and describing. Winter is hard; the cold does chill; Demeter is mourning. And we oppose that threat with the quiet heroism of comfort. Central heating, double-paned windows, down coats, heated cars. But we also oppose the threatening blank bitterness of winter just by looking at it, and by saying what it’s like. [...] Names are the footholds, the spikes the imagination hammers in to get a hold on an ice wall of mere existence.”
—Adam Gopnik, “Romantic Winter,” from Winter: Five Windows on the Season
I love Gopnik’s work, particularly Paris to the Moon, so when Zoe recommended this collection on the Booksmith’s blog, I had to check it out. And I love his take on the different facets of winter – thoughtful, well-researched and gently humorous. I’m hoping his words will help me weather my second Northeastern winter gracefully.
What words and books help you through winter?
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